Happy Accident

by Zach Oat September 18, 2009
The Jenna Elfman Interview

Jenna Elfman has been delighting television audiences since 1992, when she was in the background of an episode of Murder She Wrote. However, we didn't take much notice until 1997's Dharma & Greg, where Elfman played the spiritual, fun-loving wife to a straight-laced lawyer. Five seasons later, she was a TV and movie star, and while her 2006 series Courting Alex only lasted a season, it whetted our appetites for her eventual return. Now her new series Accidentally on Purpose -- about a thirtysomething movie critic who gets pregnant after a one-night-stand with a twentysomething guy -- is starting up on CBS, and we got her on the phone to talk about the difficulty of creating a new TV series and which cast member is actually pregnant. (Hint: It's not her. Well, she is pregnant, but we spoke to her before she had announced her own pregnancy. So there are now two pregnant cast members. Method acting!)

TWoP: It's been a few years since Courting Alex went off the air. What was the process like to get Accidentally on Purpose off the ground?
Jenna Elfman:
It was interesting. I was in straight development Hell for four years. I had been at TBS, then I was at ABC, there was a project here, a project there, new writers, new ideas, developing, network responses... I mean, it was like a solid -- that's what I've been working on for the last four years, wanting to get back on television with a fun show. And it's not as easy as one would hope. And so when I came upon AoP, I was completely happy and excited, because I had decided not to go to another development deal, because it hadn't proved fruitful for me. So I went, "I'm gonna stay a free agent and [look for] something that a writer has written." You know, already done. Just change how I was going about things. And like a week later, after I decided that, AoP came around. So there was a lot of effort to get me back on television, but they hadn't proved fruitful for some time.

So what exactly drew you to AoP?
Number one, the wit and the voice of the character and how Claudia Lonow wrote her. I read it one morning, and as the day progressed I just could not stop thinking about it. It was just growing on me, growing on me, growing on me. And it felt very culturally relevant, and like I hadn't seen it before on television, and I thought, "This is good writing! Like, it's funny!" I read it like four or five times, and I'd read it aloud with my friend, and I would still laugh out loud every time. And it got funnier to me as I sat with it, and the more I read it, and I thought, "This is really interesting." And I knew that was hard to come by. And I liked the producers involved, and I had a feeling it was gonna be a Monday night show for CBS, and everything seemed right about it.

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